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New Uber Bill Clears First Stop But Potholes And Roadblocks Lie Ahead

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach) making his pitch.
Nick Evans

Last session, transportation network legislation—commonly referred to as the Uber Bill—died on the House floor.  Now lawmakers are taking another crack at the issue.

Critics of legislation aimed at ride hailing services like Uber and Lyft have raised numerous concerns—insurance coverage, background checks, and whether communities can regulate the service. 

That last one might be the biggest sticking point for the proposal, but Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach) defends implementing one law for the entire state.

“In one place you might have to have a blue sticker in the other place a purple sticker,” Gaetz says.  “Here we would establish one statewide standard for public safety to provide for the service to have the permit to have a process by which if someone has not had a positive experience they can report that there can be review and accountability.”

But former Republican Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff—who’s now lobbying on behalf of taxi companies—is taking aim at licensing fees.

“We need to have a more level playing field,” Bogdanoff says, “so we would like Representative Gaetz to address all of the issues.”

“For instance you have a taxi company who has 270 vehicles who pays approximately $100,000 in fees,” Bogdanoff explains.  “This bill proposes $5,000 for thousands of vehicles.”

The bill requires transportation network companies to pay a 5000 dollar flat fee to operate in the state.  But in a departure from its tactics last year, Bogdanoff says the taxi industry is interested in finding a middle ground between its relatively stringent regulations and the lower bar proposed for ride hailing services. 

Nick Evans came to Tallahassee to pursue a masters in communications at Florida State University. He graduated in 2014, but not before picking up an internship at WFSU. While he worked on his degree Nick moved from intern, to part-timer, to full-time reporter. Before moving to Tallahassee, Nick lived in and around the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years. He listens to far too many podcasts and is a die-hard 49ers football fan. When Nick’s not at work he likes to cook, play music and read.